Friday, January 10, 2014

The Adventurer: Curse of the Midas Box (January 11th and 12th at the Cedar Lee Theatre)

[THE ADVENTURER: CURSE OF THE MIDAS BOX screens Saturday January 11th and Sundary January 12th at 11:00 am at the Cedar Lee Theatre.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

I would never be one to say that the world needs fewer 4 star movies. But the truth is, sometimes I just want the cinematic equivalent of junk food. Pizza, chips, and soda pop in movie form. And at no time in my life did I want that more than when I was an adolescent. So while THE ADVENTURER: THE CURSE OF THE MIDAS BOX is at no risk of being confused with great cinema, it is a rousing adventure yarn that aims for the HARRY POTTER audience, albeit on a budget. 

I know $25 million sounds like a lot of money to you, but in movie terms, that's chicken feed. Nonetheless, THE ADVENTURER looks polished and professional, and while there aren't any superstars in the cast, Sam Neil, Michael Sheen, and Leana Headey are all fine actors who aren't exactly unknown.

The plot is pretty standard issue boy's adventure stuff. Mariah Mundi (Aneurin Barnard) and his brother Felix (Xavier Atkins) find out the hard way that their parents belong to a secret government organization charged with keeping powerful ancient artifacts out of the hands of evildoers. One such evildoer is Otto Luger (Sam Neil), who is presently trying to get his hands on two amulets that will lead him to a magical box that, the legend states, turns whatever is placed inside it into gold. 

Fortunately for the forces of good another agent, Will Charity (Michael Sheen), managed to swipe the amulets before Luger could get them. Through a series of events the amulet halves wind up in the possession of Mariah and Felix. Of course the bad guys are hot on the trail and capture Mariah's parents and Felix, while Mariah manages to escape with the help of Charity. Now it's up to the young man to save his family, get back the other amulet, and stop Luger from carrying out his nefarious scheme.

It's all pretty by the numbers stuff, but director Jonathan Newman handles it well despite coming from a background in indie comedies. Or maybe that's part of why this was less annoying than so many of the attempts to spawn another YA franchise in the POTTER/TWILIGHT/HUNGER GAMES mold. Instead of focusing on the action and special effects, Newman is a little more interested in character and plot. The action and fantasy elements are still present, mind you; they just don't take over the movie.

If it weren't such an anachronism in this day and age, one could easily describe THE ADVENTURER: THE CURSE OF THE MIDAS BOX as perfect fodder for a Saturday afternoon kiddie matinee. As it turns out, someone involved in distributing this film must be old enough to know what a kiddie matinee is. At least that's how it's being shown when it plays the Cedar Lee Theatre this Saturday and Sunday at 11:00 am only. It's one of the few things I like about the new status quo of digital distribution – movies that wouldn't stand much of a chance dumped into the multiplexes for a regular engagement can still reach their audience on the big screen in limited release. No, this isn't a great film, and it's not likely to launch the next big franchise. But it's not as bad as a lot of films aimed at the same audience that have received wider releases 
(e.g. 2013's godawful THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: CITY OF BONES).  2 ½ out of 4 stars.

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